Reward To Volatility Ratio

The reward to volatility ratio is a measure used in trading to evaluate the potential reward of a trade compared to its risk. It is a useful tool for traders to assess the profitability and risk of a trade before taking a position. Understanding this ratio can help traders make more informed decisions and manage their risk more effectively. In this article, we will explore the reward to volatility ratio, how it is calculated, and how traders can use it to make better trading decisions.

Understanding Reward-to-Volatility Ratio

Before we dive into the specifics of the reward-to-volatility ratio, it’s important to understand what we mean by reward-to-volatility ratio. The reward-to-volatility ratio is a financial metric that measures the risk-adjusted return of an investment. It compares the potential return of an investment to its level of volatility or risk. To calculate the ratio, the potential return is divided by the standard deviation of the investment’s returns.

For example, a high-volatility investment like a stock might have big swings in price from day to day or even from minute to minute, while a low-volatility investment like a bond will have much more stable returns. The reward of an investment is closely tied to its level of risk, and investors need to carefully consider both factors when deciding how to allocate their money. On the other hand, if another investment has an expected return of 8% and a standard deviation of 10%, its reward-to-volatility ratio would be 0.8:1. This means that the potential return is less than the level of volatility or risk.

The reward-to-volatility ratio is a useful metric for investors as it provides a quick way to assess an investment’s risk-reward profile. A high ratio indicates that an investment has the potential to deliver higher returns for the amount of risk taken, while a low ratio suggests that the investment may not be worth the risk. However, it’s important to note that the ratio has limitations and should be used in conjunction with other metrics to gain a more complete understanding of an investment’s risk-reward profile.

Calculating the Reward-to-Volatility Ratio

The reward-to-volatility ratio is a metric that can help investors evaluate how much return they can expect from an investment relative to its level of risk. The formula for calculating the ratio is simple:

Reward-to-Volatility Ratio = Expected Annualized Return / Annualized Standard Deviation

To calculate the expected annualized return, you need to estimate the average return an investment will generate over a specific period of time, such as one year. To calculate the annualized standard deviation, you need to measure the volatility of the investment over the same period of time and then annualize that number.

For example, let’s say you’re considering investing in a stock that you expect to generate an average return of 10% per year, and that has a standard deviation of 20%. Using the formula above, you would calculate the reward-to-volatility ratio as follows:

Reward-to-Volatility Ratio = 10% / 20% = 0.5

Interpreting the Reward-to-Volatility Ratio

So what does this ratio actually tell us? A high reward-to-volatility ratio indicates that an investment is expected to generate a relatively high return compared to the level of risk it carries. In contrast, a low ratio indicates that an investment carries a higher level of risk relative to the potential return it offers.

For example, a stock with a reward-to-volatility ratio of 1.5 might be considered a good investment, while a stock with a ratio of 0.5 might be considered more risky.

Investors can use the reward-to-volatility ratio to compare different investments and evaluate which ones offer the best balance of risk and reward. For example, if you’re choosing between two stocks with similar expected returns, but one has a lower level of volatility than the other, the stock with the lower volatility might be a better choice, since it offers a higher reward-to-volatility ratio.

Applications of the Reward-to-Volatility Ratio

Despite its limitations, the reward-to-volatility ratio can be a valuable tool for investors. Here are a few ways it can be used:

  1. Asset Allocation: Investors can use the reward-to-volatility ratio to determine how much of their portfolio should be allocated to different types of investments. For example, if an investor has a high tolerance for risk and is seeking higher returns, they might choose to allocate more of their portfolio to investments with higher reward-to-volatility ratios.
  2. Portfolio Management: Investors can use the reward-to-volatility ratio to monitor the risk-reward profile of their portfolio over time. If the ratio of an investment in the portfolio drops, it may indicate that the investment is becoming riskier or that its returns are diminishing, which could prompt the investor to reevaluate their portfolio allocation.
  3. Real-World Examples: The reward-to-volatility ratio is used by many professional investors to evaluate investments in real-world scenarios. For example, some hedge fund managers use the ratio to evaluate potential investments and to manage the risk-reward profile of their portfolios.

Limitations of the Reward-to-Volatility Ratio

While the reward-to-volatility ratio can be a useful tool for evaluating investments, it’s important to keep in mind that it has limitations.

It doesn’t take into account other factors that can impact an investment’s returns, such as liquidity, credit risk, or geopolitical risk.

The ratio may not be a reliable indicator for certain types of investments, such as those with highly unpredictable returns, or those that are highly correlated with other investments in a portfolio.

Investors should not rely solely on the reward-to-volatility ratio when making investment decisions, but should also consider other metrics, such as the Sharpe ratio or the Sortino ratio.


The reward-to-volatility ratio is a simple yet powerful tool for evaluating investments. By comparing the potential reward of an investment to its level of volatility, investors can gain a better understanding of its risk-reward profile and make more informed investment decisions.

However, it’s important to keep in mind the limitations of the ratio and to use it in conjunction with other metrics to make well-rounded investment decisions. With careful consideration and analysis, the reward-to-volatility ratio can be a valuable tool for investors seeking to optimize their investment portfolios.

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